Calgary

Activist Greta Thunberg arrives in Alberta ahead of climate strike at legislature

Environmental activist Greta Thunberg has followed through on her pledge to visit the heartland of Canada's oil and gas industry, showing up in downtown Calgary on Wednesday and planning to join a climate strike at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton on Friday.

Swedish environmentalist spotted on Stephen Avenue in downtown Calgary

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg participates in the #FridaysForFuture climate march in Montreal on Sept. 27. She said in a recent tweet that she's planning a visit to Alberta and was spotted Wednesday in Calgary. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Environmental activist Greta Thunberg has followed through on her pledge to visit the heartland of Canada's oil and gas industry, showing up in downtown Calgary on Wednesday and planning to join a climate strike at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton on Friday.

The Swedish teen — who founded the Fridays For Future climate strikes that have galvanized young people around the world — was spotted on Stephen Avenue in downtown Calgary on Wednesday morning. She told a Radio-Canada reporter who saw her that she had no public events planned in Calgary and would travel to Edmonton within hours.

Last month, Thunberg appeared at a Montreal climate strike, speaking to a crowd estimated at half a million.

There, she called for world leaders to take concrete action on climate change, adding that protests should continue until changes were implemented.

The 16-year-old also met with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau while in Montreal, telling him that the Canadian government was not doing enough to fight climate change.

On Saturday, Thunberg announced on Twitter she would travel to Alberta after a series of appearances in the United States.

Mixed reaction in Alberta

Her visit drew a mixed reaction even before she got to the western province.

Alberta's environment minister has said Thunberg "doesn't understand" the province, and signalled the government wouldn't be laying out the welcome mat for the teen's upcoming visit.

Speaking to reporters outside the Alberta legislature in Edmonton on Tuesday, Environment Minister Jason Nixon said Thunberg hasn't reached out to the United Conservative Party government, and it has no plans to contact her.

"I do hope that if she does come to our beautiful province, she takes the time to talk to our state-of-the-art industry partners, who are working tirelessly to continue to produce the most ethical and environmentally friendly oil and gas products in the world," Nixon said.

"When you look at some of Ms. Thunberg's comments, she doesn't understand our province," Nixon said later, adding Thunberg needs to realize that Alberta must be an active partner in any global climate-change strategy.

Thunberg, right, was spotted on a Calgary street on Wednesday. The Swedish teen had posted on Twitter her plan to visit Alberta. (Tiphanie Roquette/Radio-Canada)

Chief Lee Crowchild, of the Tsuut'ina Nation southwest of Calgary, said he sees Thunberg's visit as a learning opportunity for her and for the world.

"I am pleased that a high-profile climate change activist is coming to Alberta. I hope her visit is not just a fly-over, but a genuine effort to learn how Canadians contribute to climate solutions," he said.

"In this case, I think it's critical that Ms. Thunberg understand that it is possible to do economic development sustainably. It is possible to balance the goals of development and protection of the environment. What better place for her to see that balance at work, than at Tsuut'ina?"

Climate Action Edmonton says people of all ages from across Treaty 6, 7, and 8 territory will take part in the strike in Edmonton on Friday.

While Edmonton's mayor, Don Iveson, extended an invitation to meet with Thunberg, Medicine Hat Mayor Ted Clugston expressed skepticism about her overall cause.

"No one's ever asked me to declare a climate emergency," Clugston told the Medicine Hat News. "I'm tired of people calling carbon dioxide 'pollution.' It's a basic building block of life."

"I'll listen to qualified scientists."

Priya Migneault, with the activist group Fridays For Futures YYC, said Thunberg's trip to Alberta has her and her friends excited.

"But I do hope that she is aware that this is oil and gas country, which I'm assuming she had been aware of that for a while," she said.

"A lot of us environmental activists here are not against oil-and-gas workers because we are aware that they are doing a supply-and-demand industry. And we hope that Greta sees that as well, and that's what a lot of Albertans make their money on, and that's how a lot of Albertans are fed."

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